Mgahinga National Park is a spectacular park positioned in Kisoro District in the far Southwestern Uganda. This is one of the 3 protected areas lying in the Virunga Massifs and the rest include Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in the D.R. Congo. In Uganda & Virunga Region, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest of all ten parks and other than mountain gorillas; it is also most popular for its scenic Virunga volcanoes –Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura.
Mgahinga Gorilla N/Park is largely composed of tropical rainforest, bamboo forest and these are the main habitats to its diverse wildlife including mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and birds. It is the 2nd park in Uganda where tourists can travel and track mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Gorilla trekking is a special primate adventure that is most famous in Mgahinga National Park. It is a safe and secure adventure anyone above 15 years can engage in on gorilla safaris in Uganda. Every gorilla trek begins with briefing about gorilla trekking guidelines and they should be observed while on a trek to see gorillas.
Hikes to explore mountain gorillas in the wild starts at Ntebeko area and visitors are led by an experienced guide. First, for you to be allowed to visit gorillas, you shouldn’t be ill or have any signs of illnesses. Mountain gorillas are unique primates sharing about 95% of their DNA with humans.
In Mgahinga Park, Nyakagezi gorilla family is the only family that is open to trekking and this is headed by Mark silverback. Gorilla permits are open for booking for foreign non-residents at USD 700 per person, USD 600 for foreign residents and for East African citizens at shs. 250,000. Gorilla permits sell out at higher rate during the peak season that is June, July, August to September and December, January to February.
The main areas of interest when it comes to hiking in Mgahinga National Park include the three Virunga volcanoes. These include Gahinga Volcano (3474m), 6 hours’ round trek although this may depend on the hikers speed; Mt. Sabyinyo rising up to 3669 meters taking climbers 8 hours and the highest volcano in this park is Mt. Muhabura rising high at an altitude of 4127m.
All the three volcanoes are safe to hike through. Hikers are led by experienced guides and to enjoy the hikes, don’t forget to wear waterproof hiking boots. Other essential items that you may need include waterproof daypack, long sleeved shirt, a sweater, rain jacket, insect repellent, energy giving snacks, and more.
When to go hiking in Mgahinga
The dry season is the most ideal period to travel to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for guided hiking safaris. The dry months to mark on your travel calendar for hiking tour: June, July, August, September and December, January to February. During these months, there is low rainfall received in the park and the hiking trails are kept relatively drier making them passable, and easier to trek through.
Important tip: before the actual date of hiking tour in Mgahinga, first, conduct adequate exercise/practice. This will keep you fit for your long day hike in Mgahinga National Park.
Hire a porter to assist you with heavy luggage. Whether you plan to go gorilla trekking or volcano climbing, consider hiring a porter a must, especially if you have heavy luggage. Porters can be hired from the park offices to help you carry your luggage throughout the trek.
Choose accommodation near the park offices for your overnight stay in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The available luxury lodge at Mgahinga is Gahinga Gorilla Lodge.
Go hiking with an experienced park guide. A park guide must accompany you on any hiking adventure you plan to engage whether you are visiting Mgahinga for the first time or as a repeat.